This is the incredible story of Daphne Joy’s arrival into the world, becoming the fifth cherished addition to Ashley and Jeff’s loving family. Just to provide a bit of context, I had the honor of photographing their fourth baby, Jack, as a precious newborn two years ago. After that, life took them to a different state, so you can imagine my surprise and excitement when Ashley reached out to me again. Despite living far away, she made the decision to temporarily relocate her entire family over 1000 miles to Florida for the final stages of her pregnancy and to ensure her dream birth with her trusted midwife. It was truly remarkable! This awe-inspiring birth took place in their Florida home, where countless memories were created before they eventually sold it. Midwife Sam Crickmore from First Coast Midwifery Services in Jacksonville was equally exhilarated to be able to assist in delivering her fourth baby for this wonderful family, a significant milestone in her career. Being a part of this dream team was an absolute thrill for me as well. Now, allow me to present you with Daphne’s birth story, as beautifully recounted by her mother, Ashley. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this heartwarming tale!
Glancing at my phone, I noticed the time was 6:30 AM and I was abruptly awoken by a sharp pain in my lower back. Slowly, I sat up, pondering if this could be the early stages of labor as a contraction hit me. For the next 15 minutes, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening, even going so far as to send a Facebook message to my midwife saying, “I think today might be the day…” Why would I call her if it wasn’t real labor, right?
Around 6:50 AM, my husband Jeff stopped pretending to be asleep and inquired about the situation. Neither of us were truly prepared for this moment! Exiting my bedroom, I began pacing back and forth upstairs, anxiously waiting for my midwife and later, my birth photographer, to respond to my calls. It was a surprise to everyone that I had gone into labor naturally, considering I had needed assistance with three out of my four previous pregnancies. I felt a mixture of excitement, fear, unpreparedness, and gratitude.
The commotion of my pacing, heavy breathing, and phone calls eventually woke up our four children, prompting us to head downstairs for breakfast. However, breakfast plans were quickly abandoned as my contractions intensified with each passing moment. I fetched my birthing ball and slowly made my way back upstairs to continue laboring.
Hudson, Caroline, Barbara June, and Jack quickly got dressed and eagerly made their way to their grandparent’s place. Their anticipation was palpable as they couldn’t wait to finally meet their adorable new baby sister.
I (Dallas) made it just in the nick of time to witness four adorable children scurrying down the driveway towards grandma’s car, prompting me to hastily retrieve my camera from my bag. Their overflowing vitality was palpable as they eagerly anticipated the thrilling day that lay ahead of them.
In the tranquility of her luxurious master bedroom suite, Ashley embraced the gentle rhythm of her contractions, allowing the soft morning light to create a hazy ambiance.
As the contractions intensified, I found solace in leaning on my exercise ball and concentrating on my breath. To my dismay, I realized that I was not prepared for the water birth I had envisioned for the upcoming weekend. There were no hoses, no stack of towels, no bowl for the placenta, and no birth kit – all of which I had just ordered the previous day. However, amidst the chaos, one thing stood out as indispensable: the presence of my midwife, Sam.
She couldn’t believe it when she went into labor just two days after her due date, especially since her previous babies had always arrived around the 41-week mark. In her excitement, Ashley reached out to a nearby friend to ask if they happened to have a hose available. Despite having experienced three previous non-hospital births, she had been eagerly anticipating the possibility of having her first water birth this time around.
Don’t worry, Sam came to save the day! With agility, she collected necessary items from her vehicle and began assisting in turning Ashley’s dream into a tangible experience.
“The familiar and composed figure, who I traveled numerous miles to have by my side during the birth of my fifth child, ingeniously connected a hose from the laundry room to my bedroom, enabling me to have the birthing experience I had always envisioned.
As I stood in the refreshing water, I patiently waited for the soothing sensation to take over my body. Throughout this moment, I found comfort in Jeff’s presence, never straying too far from his side. When the waves of labor intensified, I yearned for him to be by my side, offering unwavering support. With each wave, he became my reliable pillar, providing strength and guiding me through this journey.
The temperature of the pool water remained excessively high, prompting the girlfriend to retrieve some ice from the refrigerator downstairs and playfully throw it into the water. Sam, aware of the urgent need to lower the temperature promptly, as the baby’s arrival was imminent, took immediate action.
I felt the rhythmic surges of contractions wash over me repeatedly, while I relied on the edge of the birthing pool for support, intertwining my fingers with Jeff’s for solace.
In the peaceful pauses, I readied my thoughts for the arrival of our precious daughter.
I reassured myself that I was capable of bringing this precious gift down to earth and that I would not be afraid of the challenge.
As my daughter’s arrival approached, I turned towards Sam and inquired, “Will you be ready to welcome her?” I posed this seemingly silly question as my last plea for reassurance that everyone was in their proper places. Upon receiving her likely sarcastic response, I could then fully concentrate on the last stage of childbirth.
I gently embraced my husband, holding him tight with my arms around his neck.
As tears started streaming down my face, a gentle reassurance came from my midwife. In that moment, I thought to myself, “I am capable of doing this.”
My daughter was prepared, and as the next powerful contraction approached, I purposefully loosened my muscles and surrendered to the all-encompassing surge.
The moment arrived, and with a final burst of effort, our adorable bundle of joy, Daphne Joy, entered the world at precisely 10:41 AM.
I held her in my embrace when Sam passed her to me, and in that very instant, all I desired was to remain there, cherishing the unforgettable experience that had just unfolded before my eyes. I achieved it!
Daphne had this endearingly cheesy personality and her facial features were refreshingly squishy.
Her lips appeared incredibly plump, while her head boasted a luxurious amount of hair. Our precious baby girl was nestled comfortably on my chest, with Jeff kneeling in the background.
I found myself continually expressing gratitude to God for granting my prayers to bless me with a healthy newborn and a peaceful, enchanting natural delivery at home.
With an abundance of time at her disposal, Ashley luxuriated in the moments of calm and warmly welcomed her cherished newborn into her arms. There was no hasty commotion that forced her out of the peaceful pool; instead, she was able to take all the time she needed to recuperate from her arduous labor. As soon as Jeff’s call came through, the joyous grandmother promptly gathered Ashley’s two older sisters and brought them over to tenderly meet their precious new addition to the family.
The girls were brimming with excitement! They leaned over the rim of the bathtub, admiring her petite features and letting out joyful squeals.
After preparing herself, Ashley’s birthing squad assisted her in getting out of the water and settling into bed. They held Daphne close to her side, as the placenta was still inside. Ashley laid back in bed, and with Sam’s help, she safely birthed the placenta and snuggled up comfortably under the blankets to keep warm.
Jeff prepared a delightful Sunday morning feast comprising of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and hash. This scrumptious breakfast served as a well-deserved reward for mom’s tireless efforts.
After some time had passed, Hudson and Jack, the older brothers, happily became a part of the group and expressed their utmost delight upon seeing their adorable baby sibling being held by their mother.
Jeff, with a contented smile on his face, settled into a cozy rocking chair on the porch after preparing breakfast. Engaging in friendly conversation with Sam, he couldn’t contain his astonishment as he exclaimed, “Gosh! It’s truly surreal to think that there are actually five of them!” This particular scene holds a special place in my heart.